Thousands of pounds of rock salt stolen from pallets

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MEQUON (WITI) -- Thousands pounds of a precious mineral were stolen in a matter of minutes at a Mequon business. What is that precious mineral? Rock salt.

It was just after 5 a.m. on a recent Sunday when a bold criminal pulled up to the Mequon Ace Hardware and stole 5,000 pounds of salt. All of it was loaded up by one man within ten minutes.

"A market for everything I think if someone's got that product and someone needs it and they can get it for two dollars a bag or a dollar a bag, you know, they'll go to that person," said Chuck O'Connell, Mequon Police Detective.

In order to steal all 90 50-pound bags of salt, the suspect had to have loaded the salt at an average of one bag every five seconds. As if that wasn't enough, once he finished with the 50-pound pallet, he then moved on to the 25-pound bags. Having already filled up the back, he put all 18 of those in his front seat.

"I was shocked. To be honest, when my husband and I were driving over, we were like, oh it had to be like a flat-bed truck or it had to be like three or four guys loading up all that salt cause we knew it was 90 bags," said Kristin Nell, Ace Hardware owner.

This wouldn't be the last time salt was stolen from in front of a hardware store. The owners of Ace Hardware in Glendale say they believe the same man in the same van stolen a half pallet of their salt as well. However, Glendale police didn't follow up because those owners never reported the crime.

"Maybe someone's running this operation out of their garage or out of a vacant field our out of the back of the van," said O'Connell.

In both instances, it seems the thief took time to scout the store and drive up without ever showing his plates. It's a measure which has kept police from catching him.

Mequon police are working to identify the van and the thief. They're asking for anyone that may have seen this man or a similar vehicle to call police.

If you're a Mequon Ace Hardware shopper and are in need of salt, they have restocked and are ready for the wintry weather.